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[sat-l-ahyt] /ˈsæt lˌaɪt/
Astronomy. a natural body that revolves around a planet; a moon.
a country under the domination or influence of another.
something, as a branch office or an off-campus facility of a university, that depends on, accompanies, or serves something else.
an attendant or follower of another person, often subservient or obsequious in manner.
a device designed to be launched into orbit around the earth, another planet, the sun, etc.
of, relating to, or constituting a satellite:
the nation's new satellite program.
using an earth-orbiting satellite to transmit communications signals; transmitted or broadcast by satellite:
satellite radio and TV.
subordinate to another authority, outside power, or the like:
summoned to a conference of satellite nations.
1540-50; 1955-60 for def 2; < Latin satellit- (stem of satelles) attendant, member of bodyguard or retinue
Related forms
satellited, adjective
4. follower, supporter, companion, associate; lackey, parasite, sycophant, toady, flunky. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for satellites
  • The device was developed to help astronauts repair or retrieve orbiting satellites.
  • Everything from navigation to communication to intelligence satellites operate in space.
  • We sent satellites to photograph other planets and robots to explore their surfaces.
  • satellites can be used for study of such solar features as sun spots.
  • Valuable orbits are peppered with debris that threatens the operation of satellites and the lives of astronauts.
  • We expanded choice with public broadcasting, cable, and satellites.
  • One can only get an appreciation of this by looking at imagery from satellites.
  • Private companies will soon launch satellites powerful enough to spot environmental hazards-or a car in your driveway.
  • Energy capture and transfer satellites are one option, and there will be others.
  • They're a puny country in lots of ways, and they've been read minutely from satellites.
British Dictionary definitions for satellites


a celestial body orbiting around a planet or star: the earth is a satellite of the sun
Also called artificial satellite. a man-made device orbiting around the earth, moon, or another planet transmitting to earth scientific information or used for communication See also communications satellite
a person, esp one who is obsequious, who follows or serves another
a country or political unit under the domination of a foreign power
a subordinate area or community that is dependent upon a larger adjacent town or city
(modifier) subordinate to or dependent upon another: a satellite nation
(modifier) of, used in, or relating to the transmission of television signals from a satellite to the house: a satellite dish aerial
(transitive) to transmit by communications satellite
Word Origin
C16: from Latin satelles an attendant, probably of Etruscan origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for satellites



1540s, "follower or attendant of a superior person," from Middle French satellite (14c.), from Latin satellitem (nominative satelles) "attendant, companion, courtier, accomplice, assistant," perhaps from Etruscan satnal (Klein), or a compound of roots *satro- "full, enough" + *leit- "to go" (Tucker); cf. English follow, which is constructed of similar roots.

Meaning "planet that revolves about a larger one" first attested 1660s, in reference to the moons of Jupiter, from Latin satellites, which was used in this sense 1610s by German astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571-1630). Galileo, who had discovered them, called them Sidera Medicæa in honor of the Medici family. Meaning "man-made machinery orbiting the Earth" first recorded 1936 as theory, 1957 as fact. Meaning "country dependent and subservient to another" is recorded from 1800.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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satellites in Medicine

satellite sat·el·lite (sāt'l-īt')

  1. A minor structure accompanying a more important or larger one.

  2. A short segment of a chromosome separated from the rest by a constriction, typically associated with the formation of a nucleolus.

  3. A colony of microorganisms whose growth in culture medium is enhanced by certain substances produced by another colony in its proximity.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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satellites in Science

  1. A small body in orbit around a larger body. See Note at moon.

  2. An object launched to orbit Earth or another celestial body. Satellites are used for research, communications, weather information, and navigation. The first artificial Earth satellite was Sputnik 1, launched by the Soviet Union in October 1957; the first successful American satellite was launched in January 1958.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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satellites in Culture

satellite definition

In politics, a nation that is dominated politically by another. The Warsaw Pact nations, other than the former Soviet Union itself, were commonly called satellites of the Soviet Union.

satellite definition

In astronomy, an object, whether natural (such as the moon) or artificial (such as a weather observation satellite), that revolves around a central body. (See under “World Politics.”)

satellite definition

Any object in orbit about some body capable of exerting a gravitational (see gravitation) force. Artificial satellites in orbit around the Earth have many uses, including relaying communication signals, making accurate surveys and inventories of the Earth's surface and weather patterns, and carrying out scientific experiments.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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